Archive for February, 2010

ACTION ALERT for Christian leaders: Write to the Christian Allies Caucus

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

Cross-post by Joseph at the Rosh Pina Project:-

If you are a Christian in leadership, please copy and amend the following letter with your name, and email it to the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus at: christianalliescaucus@gmail.com.

Do also write to the Israeli embassy in your country.

Dear Sir,

We write to you as Christian leaders who are staunch supporters and friends of the state of Israel.

Our concerns surround the organization in Israel ‘Yad L’Achim’ which calls itself an “anti-missionary” organization. Over a prolonged period of time, Yad L’Achim has been actively hostile towards people who hold to beliefs which they consider heretical.

In November 2009, a man named Yaakov Teitel confessed to having murdered two Palestinian Arabs, attempted to murder a Messianic Jewish family, and deliberately wounded an Israeli professor. Yaakov Teitel placed a bomb in the home of a Messianic Jewish family, which resulted in serious injuries to the family’s teenage son Ami Ortiz. In particular, the case of Ami Ortiz has concerned many Evangelical Christians outside of Israel.

It has recently emerged that Yakov Teitel was actively involved in the Yad L’Achim organization over a 5 year period prior to his arrest. I would draw your attention to the recent petition from attorney Calev Myers of the Jerusalem Institute of Justice to the Attorney General of Israel, Mr Yehuda Weinstein. Myers’ letter regarding the Yad L’Achim organisation may be read online:

http://www.jij.org.il/articles/JIJ-AG%20Request_ENG_.pdf

The report shows that Yad L’Achim activists and leaders have consistently spouted propaganda against individuals and charitable organisations whose beliefs do not correspond to their own. Yad L’Achim has also been connected to actual cases of physical attack, as well as several cases of harassing and intimidating individuals and communities over a long period of time.

We would urge the Government of Israel to disband the Yad L’Achim organization so that both the quality of Israeli democracy and the freedom and security of all Israeli citizens may be improved. To disband Yad L’Achim, we believe, would be in-line with the interests of the state of Israel and of the wider international community.

Many thanks for your assistance. I hope to hear from you soon.

Yours faithfully,

Islamic Forum Europe (IFE) has infiltrated The Labour Party

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

There is a fair bit of online activity in response to a Sunday Telegraph article by Andrew Gilligan, claiming the Labour party has been “infiltrated” by Islamic extremists, in the form of Islamic Forum Europe (IFE).

This from the Spitoon

The Telegraph has published news of a six-month investigation which it undertook with Channel 4’s Dispatches on the Islamic Forum Europe (IFE). The IFE is a Jamaat-e-Islami entryist organisation which now commands a sizeable vote bloc and is physically located in the East London Mosque (ELM) with which it is closely linked. The chairman of ELM is Mohammed Abdul Bari, who is a former president of the IFE and is the current Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain.

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Obviously anti-Islamic websites are featuring this news heavily and repeating the Telegraph article verbatim.

Cranmer has a very insightful article on this one as usual:-

Andrew Gilligan is usually sound, so there is no immediate reason to dismiss his report in The Sunday Telegraph that the Labour Party have been ‘infiltrated by a fundamentalist Muslim group that wants to create an “Islamic social and political order” in Britain’.

He quotes the Environment Minister Jim Fitzpatrick, that the Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE) have become ‘a secret party within Labour and other political parties’. He says the group ‘believes in jihad and sharia law, and wants to turn Britain and Europe into an Islamic state’. In order to do this, it ‘has placed sympathisers in elected office and claims, correctly, to be able to achieve “mass mobilisation”’.

He appears to be oblivious to the fact that all Muslims ‘believe’ in jihad and sharia law: it is the duty of all Muslims to struggle for their faith and live a life in submission to the laws of Allah; it is what makes a Muslim a Muslim. But he appears to be incapable of distinguishing between the plethora of schools of thought on these theo-political concepts: one Muslim’s jihad and sharia are not another Muslim’s jihad and sharia: theological interpretation has been devolved and judicial authority protestantised.

This is not the first time Mr Fitzpatrick has incited ill-feeling towards his Muslim constituents: it was he who back in August ‘stormed out’ of a wedding reception when he refused to be separated from his wife.

And here he is now decrying a Muslim group for ‘acting almost as an entryist organisation, placing people within the political parties, recruiting members to those political parties, trying to get individuals selected and elected so they can exercise political influence and power, whether it’s at local government level or national level’.

‘Twas ever thus.

In a liberal representative democracy, it is the right of any legally-constituted group to order itself, get its members to join political parties, and then get them selected and elected ‘so they can exercise political influence and power’.

Good grief, even The Countryside Alliance are at it. And only a few weeks ago, an anonymous Conservative was decrying the same strategy of the Evangelical Christians.

Continure Reading

UPDATE: Harry’s Place have now covered this one:-

The Sunday Telegraph has published four articles about the Islamic Forum of Europe’s baleful influence on politics in East London.

The IFE is closely linked to Jamaat-e-Islami, a South Asian Islamist group. For a look into its thinking, see this speech last week by its leader Syed Munawar Hasan:

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Richard Dawkins forum closure: the true reason according to the New Humanist

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

Following the announcement about the “revamping” of the Richard Dawkins forum, which created a global wave of panic, alarm, anger and frightened responses from atheists, the New Humanist website revealed a sinister plot was a afoot.

The New Humanist’s discovered a Christian website called Christwire attributing the closure of the forums to the power of prayer; here’s what Christwire had to say:-

For years we warned atheists that we would take down their site entitled RichardDawkins.net, by the power prayer.

The atheists laughed and said prayer did not exist. They cursed us and said there was no God. I warned them time and again, and now, we see the true power of God as he has closed their sinful site, RichardDawkins.net.

This was the New Humanist response to these claims:-

So there you have it. And if you’re wondering why they hate Dawkins so, here it is:

“For those of you who do not know, Richard Dawkins is one of the worst offenders before God. He promotes bestial relations. He thinks that a “less evolved” human man and a monkey woman had sexual relations to create us.”A fairly accurate summary of The Selfish Gene, wouldn’t you say?

The laugh was on the New Humanists however, when they discovered the following about the website Christwire:-

Update: Okay, so it turns out the Christian website is a spoof (thanks Jared). Still funny though, and to be fair we’ve seen plenty of non-spoof evangelical statements even more ridiculous than that, so you can see how it got us!

Just shows even humanists can be wrong :)

On a more serious note, Matt Wardman over at the Online Journalism Blog, has written an excellent post looking at the coverage of the Dawkins forum “episode” in the Telegraph:-

Telegraph invents comparative degrees of atheism. Dawkins = “athiest”

Dozens of young Arab Muslims holed up in the Al Aqsa Mosque atop Jerusalem’s Temple Mount attacked visiting Jews and Christians with stones on Sunday morning.

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

Israel Today:-

Dozens of young Arab Muslims holed up in the Al Aqsa Mosque atop Jerusalem’s Temple Mount attacked visiting Jews and Christians with stones on Sunday morning.

Two Israeli police officers and at least 10 of the Muslim rioters were injured in the ensuing clash.

The riots then spread to Arab areas outside the Old City, where young Muslim stone-throwers attacked Israeli police and soldiers. Several arrests were made, but no more injuries were reported.

The violent demonstrations were believed to be in response to last week’s decision by the Israeli cabinet to add the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem to its list of national heritage sites. Both towns are under Palestinian control.

The decision to officially recognize the sites as sacred to Jews and improve their preservation as such has already resulted in widespread riots in Hebron and Bethlehem. The international community has also harshly condemned Israel’s decision.

The case for, and against, the canonization of Pope Pius XII

Saturday, February 27th, 2010

An interesting and informative article in the National Post today looking at the controversy surrounding the move to canonize Pope Pius XII.

Is Pope Pius XII the The Nazi pope who facilitated Nazi aims, or is he the misunderstood and much maligned protector of the Jews, in a harrowing period of history? You decide:-

Holy Post:-

The road to sainthood is never speedy, but rarely is it as divisive as the campaign to canonize Pope Pius XII. Just last week, a group of prominent Catholic scholars urged Pope Benedict to slow down the process in order to better assess contradictory evidence. Some see the Pope, who reigned over the Roman Catholic Church during the Second World War, as a pro-Nazi collaborator and anti-Semite who went along with the Holocaust. To others, including some prominent Jews, he was an anti-Nazi, who actively saved Jews, risking his own safety and that of the Church in defence of the persecuted. To add to the complexity, many historians say Pius was neither a war criminal nor a saint, just a complicated individual caught in one of history’s most catastrophic conflicts. The National Post’s Charles Lewis looks at some of the leading theories in the complex case for and against the making of his road to sainthood.

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Roman Catholic Church’s guide to voting in the next general election

Saturday, February 27th, 2010

Two articles in the Times today looking at the “Catholic vote”.

Ruth Gledhill – Times

Roman Catholic bishops enter pre-election fray

The Roman Catholic Church will wade into the general election campaign next week with a controversial document condemning the loss of virtue in public life.

In their pre-election manifesto, Catholic bishops are expected to take a line that is economically to the left of centre but conservative on social issues such as marriage, education and care for the elderly.

They will argue for the right to religious freedom at a time when secularist campaigning is on the rise as never before. The document will also be interpreted as a warning to the Conservatives that their more liberal attitude to certain social issues, such as homosexuality, threatens to alienate a core block of swing voters in an election where the religious vote is regarded as crucial to the outcome.

In the document, discussed with the Pope when the bishops were in Rome for their ad limina visit earlier this year, the Catholic bishops of England and Wales warn that regulation has replaced virtue in public life. They condemn the substitution of red tape and petty rules for virtue, the loss of trust, the financial collapse, the decimation of social capital, the loss of human dignity in policies on migration, the devastation to the global environment and the repeated attempts to erode religious freedoms in Britain.

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Philip Collins – Times

Catholic Church voting guide will be claimed by the Tories

It was once famously said that the Anglican Church was the Conservative Party at prayer. If that adage was ever true it abruptly ceased to be in the autumn of 1985. When the Church of England’s Commission on Urban Priority Areas published Faith in the City, a report that blamed the Thatcher Government for spiritual and economic poverty, ministers were incensed.

One Cabinet minister dismissed the report as “pure Marxist theology” and claimed it proved beyond doubt that the Anglican Church was governed by “a load of communist clerics”.

It is unlikely that any Labour minister will react with quite such anger to the publication of the Roman Catholic Church’s guide to voting in the next general election. The document is scrupulously non-partisan in the sense that it endorses no political party. That is wise politics, for the largely Catholic segments of the northern and Scottish cities are almost exclusively Labour areas.

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An interesting week for secularism – Editorial by Terry Sanderson

Saturday, February 27th, 2010

Strangely, I found this to be quite an interesting and entertaining article by Terry Sanderson (National Secular Society President) reflecting on the goings on, of the last week:-

An interesting week for secularism – Editorial by Terry Sanderson

This week has been an interesting one for secularism in Britain. It began with the announcement by the Government that it intended to amend — at the behest of the Catholic Church — its Children’s, Schools and Families Bill provisions on mandatory sex and relationship education in all schools. After whingeing from the Catholic Education Society, Mr Balls gave an opt-out for “faith schools” to teach sex education in conformity with the teachings of the faith. He insisted that it would not compromise the Bill in any way. But he did not adequately explain why, if that was the case, the amendment was necessary in the first place. (See also this interesting video on YouTube on what it will mean in practice).

Mr Balls received a massive kicking for watering down the requirements – not least from the NSS, which was on the front line of attack for this further disgraceful concession to the “faith communities”. (You can read all about it by following the links in the “NSS Speaks Out” feature below.)

No sooner had this gift been given to the Catholic Church, than the Government’s (zealously Catholic) Scottish Secretary, Jim Murphy, gave a speech in Westminster opining that religion has a big part to play in politics and that the Labour Party should court the “faith vote”. It wasn’t clear what exactly he wanted the party to do, beyond an embrace of “family values” (a concept that takes on a sinisterly authoritarian shade in a Catholic context), but presumably appealing to religious voters means giving them something in exchange for their vote.

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Check out George Pitcher’s (Telegraph) comments during the week:-

Secularist Terry Sanderson launches bizarre attack on Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy’s faith in politics

Just to keep us updated on the plight of our brothers and sisters in Iraq today

Saturday, February 27th, 2010

Christian Today – Christian families in Iraq are fleeing the northern town of Mosul in droves after a string of unprovoked murders left at least 10 believers dead, a ministry working with persecuted churches have reported.

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Catholic News Agency – Bishops in Iraq urge government to halt slaughter of Christians

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Spero News – The Vatican newspaper, Osservatore Romano, published on February 26 a letter from Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. to Nouri Kamil al-Maliki, prime minister of Iraq, expressing Pope Benedict’s concern over attacks against Christians there.

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Spero – Mosul – More Christian blood shed in Mosul in northern Iraq. This morning an armed commando killed a young university student and wounded a friend who was at the place of the attack. The umpteenth targeted attack against the community is just the latest in a long streak of blood, a short distance from where the double murder of two traders took place and the kidnapping of a man, on 13 February.

Pray, pray, pray.

J Street Slanders Evangelical Christian Supporters of Israel Once Again

Saturday, February 27th, 2010

CBN - Erick Stakelbeck (Hat-tip Solomonia)

Have you ever heard of a supposedly “pro Israel” group that has issued more press releases condemning Christian Zionists than it has Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadenijad, Hezbollah and Syria combined? No? Then welcome to J Street, the self-described “pro Israel, pro peace” lobbying group that bends over backwards to insult Israel’s friends and supporters, especially evangelical Christians, and makes a living off of criticizing Israeli government policies.

I’ve discussed J Street’s naked anti-Christian bigotry before (see here and here) but since they are at it again (more on that in a bit), I felt compelled to undertake a little research project. I went to J Street’s website and surveyed the group’s press releases from the past year and a half. The results? To start, four press releases (including one from February 1, 2010) attacking John Hagee and Christians United for Israel (CUFI). Indeed, two of J Street’s first four press releases were devoted to slamming Hagee. Talk about misguided priorities: a purportedly pro-Israel group using all of this ink on Hagee and evangelical supporters of Israel at a time when Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran and Syria are stockpiling increasingly lethal weapons and publicly calling for Israel’s destruction.

In those press releases, J Street essentially painted Hagee–a man Senator (and orthodox Jew) Joseph Lieberman once compared to Moses–as a closet anti-Semite and portrayed Christian supporters of Israel as some sort of wild-eyed, apocalyptic death cult (a strategy which this release by J Street’s founder, Jeremy Ben-Ami, took to new extremes).  But what may be even more offensive is that J Street has come up with exactly one–one–press release condeming genocidal Iranian dictator Mahmoud Ahmadenijad. And zero press releases condeming either Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah or Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, two others who regularly threaten Israel’s demise. If J Street wants ”end times” and “apocalyptic,” then Ahmadenijad, Assad and Nasrallah–who all met yesterday in Damascus to plot further attacks against Israel–are certainly the real deal. So why the bizarre preoccupation with evangelical Christians, an extremely large and influential group that Israeli government officials of every political persuasion routinely hail as among the Jewish people’s greatest friends and supporters?

I was greeted by the same puzzling output when scanning through opinion pieces penned by “members of J Street’s Advisory Council and by its staff and friends.” No less than three scathing op-eds that mention Hagee or CUFI in the title, and others, like this one, that slam them in the body of the piece. Yet not one op-ed that mentions Ahmadenijad, Nasrallah or Assad in the title, or Hamas for that matter. Christian supporters of Israel and Israeli government officials, on the other hand, are specifically targeted for criticism. Again, this is a quite peculiar strategy for a “pro-Israel” group to pursue.

Which brings us to the latest example. J Street founder Jeremy Ben-Ami once again mischaracterized CUFI recently, erroneously claiming that the group contributed money to a certain Israeli organization. I won’t go into all the details here–rather, I  strongly encourage you to read two comprehensive responses to J Street written by a pair of CUFI spokesmen (see here and here).

Bottom line: J Street’s press releases, writings and public statements reflect a great deal of time and energy spent cutting down Israel’s friends and supporters–with a special venom reserved for evangelical Christians–not to mention, the Netanyahu government. On the other hand,  the group has spent precious little time condeming Israel’s sworn enemies. You can call this perplexing tactic many things. Pro-Israel is not one of them.

Atheists Invited to Vatican Outreach Initiative

Friday, February 26th, 2010

I noticed earlier from Catholic news feeds that the Pontifical Council for Culture had announced that it is creating a foundation to focus on relations with atheists and agnostics. I didn’t report on it at the time, however, as P Z Myers has done so, I thought I’d give you his take on this:-

Where’s my invitation? – P Z Myers

Hey, I just checked my mailbox for a fancy gilt envelope, but no joy. I was hoping to hear from the Pope.

The Pontifical Council for Culture has announced that it is creating a foundation to focus on relations with atheists and agnostics.

See? They should be calling me any minute now…oh, wait.

The president of the Council announced the initiative on Wednesday as a response to Pope Benedict’s call to “renew dialogue with men and women who don’t believe but want to move towards God.

Well, I’m out. That’s like putting out a call for healthy men and women who want to move towards degenerative neurological disease.

Maybe Chris Mooney is available?

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